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Duterte: No peace talks if hostilities continue

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, July 18, met with officials and members of the government peace panel to discuss the possible signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement with communist rebels.

During their meeting held at MalacaAan Palace, the President directed the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) not to resume formal peace talks unless the Reds agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao.

The government panel, led by chief negotiator Secretary Silvestre Bello III, is set to conduct backchannel talks with the NDFP to discuss the resumption of formal negotiations between the two groups.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said the resumption of formal talks would depend on the rebel group's commitment to follow certain guidelines for a possible ceasefire deal with government.

This includes suspending operations against the military and the police and stopping all their extortion activities on the ground, among others.

President Duterte, for his part, stressed that the Reds really need to stop engaging the military in Mindanao if they want to continue the peace negotiations, adding that the government has always dealt with the communist rebels in good faith.

The government panel also plans to discuss the possible inclusion of socio-economic provisions in the interim peace agreement with the communist group.

They stressed that the NDFP needs to order its armed wing to halt all offensive operations against government troops in order to pursue their shared goal of sustaining economic development throughout Mindanao.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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